7th Heaven Chronicles
30 minutes later
Hestia put on a fake smile as she finished interviewing -read interrogated- the dwarf before her; a plant from the Apollo Familia. “Thank you for your time and for having come here, good bye.”
The smiling bearded dwarf’s eyes rounded as he understood that he was being dismissed. “But-”
Wolf held onto his silver Buster Sword and glared at the dwarf. “Get lost.”
The level 1 dwarf scowled at him but had the decency to rise up from the chair and leave by slamming the door closed.
“Next.” The little Goddess said as she finished interviewing another would-be-spy of another Familia. Wolf nodded and went to open the door for the next applicant.
It seemed that the other gods wanted to know how to create their own territory as well, however, Hestia wasn't in the mood to allow Game of Thrones to pollute her place of power. Gaea blesses Seven to have shown her the pleasure of the multiversal Flixnet and the Dimensional library which contained so many works of fiction available. Consulting them had expanded Hestia’s mind and sense of morality quite considerably,
After a thorough session of the 'Lie to me' TV show and psychology books read over the last three weeks, Hestia tried to apply the knowledge gleaned from it to observe people. Micro-expressions, body language and her deity given power allow the tiny Goddess to spot lies and deception; even lies by omission. The next applicant entered the blue walled room; she was a petite werewolf girl with gray ears and tails, she was also wearing a tunic with several pieces of leather armor that gave her the appearance of a rogue. Obviously she wasn’t armed as Wolf didn’t allow the possession of weapons during the event.
The petite werewolf slightly bowed her head as she introduced herself. “Greetings, my name is Xena Drea.”
Hestia had a good feeling as she looked into the yellow and warm eyes of the werewolf girl.“Welcome, Miss Drea. Please take a seat.”
Xena listened and with silent footsteps, plopped gracefully on the wooden chair facing Hestia’s desk. The werewolf girl smiled awkwardly and said, “Thank you, I’m happy to be here.”
The tiny Goddess leaned into her cushioned throne. “So Xena, why don’t you tell us more about you and how we can help you? What do you bring to the table to join my Familia? Why have you come to Hestia familia? What do you see yourself doing in 5 years? How long have you been an adventurer?”
Xena looked at the goddess while scratching her left wolf ear, stuttering a bit. “I am level 2, I’m a rogue and focus on stealth… but um, recently, I have had enough of fighting. Not long ago, I lost everyone I cared for in my Familia because of a Monster Frenzy in the dungeon. Ah yes, originally I am from the Macha Familia. I came to join the Hestia Familia because I saw on the ad for this event that you’re a Familia that doesn’t only focus on exploration and will open stores and a restaurant. I… um, can cook, read, calculate and write…”
Hestia liked how forthright the young werewolf was. Xena's tragic story was common in the city, the dungeon reaped adventurers' life like wheat when they became less prudent; the young werewolf looked traumatized by the loss of her comrades and wished for more mundane work to survive.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do in five years, I already quit The Macha Familia and I live as a free adventurer, barely surviving to pay the rent and feed myself or maintain my equipment.” Xena explained her current situation, she was living day to day.
Hestia thought that the werewolf was in luck, that her children made it so to create a support system for the exploration arm of their Familia. The goddess turned to Wolf. “Wolf, what do you think?”
Xena looked at the blonde human, blushed as she found him attractive and waited for his verdict. She wasn't disappointed as it was in her favor. “We will need maids and people to help in the shops or the restaurant, she doesn’t have to fight. It’s a shame though, she’s level 2.”
"I'm sorry…" Xena said as she lowered her head in shame and emitted a little whine.
Werewolves were normally a race that took pride in their strength and martial prowess; Hestia could understand that Xena was seeing herself through the lenses of her own culture and thought herself weak. Her familia wasn’t just about strength, but also about having a nice home to return to and a family that would help each other in their time of need.
Wolf waved away at her apology and with a soothing tone reassured Xena. "No, I understand your plight. I went through it as well."
Hestia wondered what the story was to those sad blue eyes Wolf showed. She was still waiting for Seven and the others to tell her where they came from. The tiny goddess turned her head back to Xena and said, “Very well.”
Sighing, Hestia then decided to go to the meat of this interview. “Xenia, I will ask you a pointed question, if you answer it, we will take you in; are you ready?”
Xena sat straighter and nodded. “Please ask.”
The tiny goddess' eyes filled with light as she asked in a serious tone, “Are you a spy for another Familia and do you want to hurt the Hestia Familia in any way?”
The werewolf girl put her hands on her lap and breathed in, “No, Goddess hestia, I’m not a spy and I want to join your Familia in good faith.”
To Hestia, Xena knew that she was being tested right now and spoke with utmost honesty and sincerely believed what she was saying. The goddess smiled and showed white pearly teeth. “Truth.”
Hestia’s face showed an expression full of happiness, Xena was the first adventurer to have answered this question without deception. The tiny goddess calmed down and her expression returned to one of seriousness as she addressed Xena. “You'll have to be on probation and have limited access to our current resources. Also, all Magic artifacts and miscellaneous equipment belonging to your previous or other Familia will be returned to them. Do you accept this?”
Xena flinched at Hestia's stipulation, then became more thoughtful. “I… yes. I understand that you’re being careful with who you include.”
Hestia liked this girl, she wasn’t stupid. “Thank you for understanding my position… Anyway, welcome aboard Xenia.”
The petite werewolf sniffled and had tears in her eyes. “Thank you!”
Wolf took one of the packets at his side and walked forward to hand it to Xena. “Take this with you, inside there’s a cloak. Now, go pass through that door, my wife, Seven, will be waiting for you.”
Xena opened it and donned the hooded black cloak., then turned to both Wolf and Hestia. “Again, thank you, Goddess Hestia, and you too Mister Wolf.”
She left through the side door to join with Seven who will surely start orientation of the young werewolf. Hestia turned her head to Wolf and Saif with a smile, “Next.”
The next would-be recruit entered, it was a young human woman with silky long black hair and light brown eyes, she wore a loose black kimono with a leaf pattern. Her expression was neutral, a bit dull, but she was certainly a beauty.
She bowed deeply in the manner of the far-eastern human. “Hello, my name is Kusanagi Miyo.”
*I have a good feeling about her.* Hestia thought.
"Welcome Miss Kusanagi."
Uyle wasn’t too sure about this, this was a new Familia in town, but people kept saying outlandish things about them. Things like three level 1 destroying an army of goblins and kobolds, warning everyone about the poison that is Soma's wine or building fortifications in a day by making the earth quake. The Amazon doubted all of it was true, some of the feats attributed to the Hestia Familia sounded like out of a fairytale.
What interested Uyle the most were the titles the Hestia Familia members had gained, Berserker Seven, Fairy Princess Flower and Sword Prince Wolf. Uyle looked around herself, she was sitting on a chair with a platter of food full of skewered chicken meat with delicious sauce. She listened to everyone speak about what to expect from the members who had experience in previous Familias. A lot of those present didn’t seem to respect the Familia they wanted to join, they shouldn't have that kind of optic as the goddess of this Familia seemed to be hands on and interviewed the candidates herself.
For over half a day, Uyle has been seeing disgruntled low class adventurers being told to vacate the premises because of their attitude. One dwarf had tried to get physical but Seven appeared out of nowhere and manhandled him like a baby and forcefully removed him by holding him by the scruff of his neck. It had been funny to watch, meanwhile, Uyle enjoyed the music and the people talking; they were all exchanging information and rumors or praising the food.
After another couple of people were rejected, it was finally Uyle’s turn, she was nervous. “Next” She heard the beautiful voice of the Goddess.
Uyle stood up and put the platter of food on the table where the plate were to be discarded off and when she was before the door of the meeting room she saw the tall form of the Wolf in armor looking down at her. His gaze firmly stayed on Uyle’s face. “Enter.” He said with his manly and stoic voice.
The amazon followed him while looking at him from head to toe. Uyle was tall, however, the man named Wolf was taller than her; it was a big change of how it normally was for her. Because of her norse divine parentage, Uyle was used to being the tallest in the room. It was also why she had blonde hair instead of black like the other amazons. Though she had seen Amazons with different hair color, it was rare but they existed.
Wolf returned to his position at Hestia's side, while the Goddess looked at Uyle with shock. “Huh, where’s the rest of your armor?”
Uyle decided to let that slide, people kept asking her that question, she was wearing an enchanted ceremonial armor that her mother had received from her own husband and familia God, Tyr. The silver armor was the best piece of armor she had come across in her life, despite it looking like a pair of underwear made of scale mail held by red fabric, the enchantment on it actually covered her body as if she wore total armor coverage. Her mother had given it to her as a gift, but it also made her look like a pervert.
There was also the fact that men seemed to like normal sized girls like one of those cat girls who was barely five feet tall; However she felt the eyes of Wolf on her, he thinly smiled at her. *It’s the first time that someone has looked at me like that. Like a warrior sizing up another, instead of a potential woman to bed.*
“Ah, you’re an Amazon.” The tiny goddess seated at the desk said. She looked with amusement at Uyle.
The amazon didn’t feel any malice from the Goddess, only mirth at… someone else. She shrugged and spoke, “Heya, the name is Uyle Krishna.”
The amazon was invited to sit before her and the Goddess finally asked, "So Uyle, why did you come here, and what do you think you'll make of yourself in the next five years?"
She sighed and began her tale…
35 minutes later…
A tall, muscular and brown-skinned half elf entered the room, followed by his wives, Zaleria, Ashera, Sillavana and Renna. They were a team from the Morrigan Familia who didn't have a good standing at the moment. Tyerr was a patient man, and a prodigious warrior and it attracted the women in his life who were utterly devoted to him; but this devotion was a double-edged blade that had hurt his honor and reputation a lot.
His wives, to realize his dreams, weren't shy about deceiving and leading on other adventurers to obtain their funds or spoils to finance their retirement and child rearing plans. In hindsight, the beastly half elf warrior realized that everything was his fault for not curtailing the habits of his girls, they were dark Elves, exiled Elves who've been banished from their lands. They all came from the Ryumilua Forest, and the Wishe Forest, all high magical areas. Elves needed mana rich land to make it more likely that procreation is a success, this was why the women in Tyerr's life wanted to gather a fortune to settle.
Ashera and Renna, who are Tyerr's mage wives were behind the drastic course of robberies and scams that they perpetrated to make their life better. Tyerr, when he discovered what they had been doing behind his back was upset. He had thought to cut it off with them and leave but they had promised, promised to stop following their dishonorable enterprises after he gave them his ultimatum; 'they stop from destroying the honor of their family or he is gone' and it scared them enough to stop all their schemes. But it seemed to be too late…
The Tri-Goddess, the Morrigan, hadn't liked how his women had sabotaged the unity of their Familia and expressly told them to get gone and never darken her house again. They've been blacklisted from pretty much every major and mid-tier Familia when The Morrigan reported them to the Guild for their fraudulent actions and now they were consigned to look for the low rung of the Familia in Orario despite all of them being level 2.
The invitation to join the Hestia Familia came just in time, Tyerr just hoped that Goddess Hestia wasn't yet informed of their past misdeeds. Fortunately for the group, they met the stunning Healer mage earlier and explained that they were a team wanting to migrate to their family and that they were all married. Flower, the woman in red just took a look at them and smiled and next she said that all five of them will need to enter the room to meet their goddess.
Tyerr didn't see any problem with that, interviewing them as a team seemed logical rather than separating them. When they were fully inside they noticed the presence of the silver armored warrior, Wolf. The girls seemed to look at him with interest, but the man didn’t return their gaze, ignoring them all. Tyerr liked it that way, and from what he gleaned from others, the man was similarly married to Seven and Flower and wasn’t looking for additional women from what he heard.
"Welcome." The tiny goddess smiled at them.
"Thank you for receiving us, Goddess Hestia." Tyerr slightly bowed his head.
The girls curtsied in elven fashion, deferring to the Goddess present. Goddess Hestia invited them to sit down before her on specially prepared chairs. Hestia's bright blue eyes focused on Tyerr. "I see that you're the right sort of man, Mister Tyerr, but I can feel that you surround yourself with some unscrupulous women."
Tyerr's shoulders slumped. "Ah, you heard about us?"
"Why of course, Lady Hephaestus gave me a dossier on all the indesirable, and criminal adventurers which might try to join my Familia. In the end even if Deities have their differences, we're still looking out for each other." Hestia linked her fingers and supported her chin with her linked hands as she watched the women panic.
The pale skinned and black haired Ashera Dasalor was the first to try to salvage the situation. "We did what we did because-"
"I'm not throwing blame here, calm yourself down Mrs Dasalor."
"You want something from us?" Sillavana, the archer with long brown locks, purple eyes and the classic elven ranger armor realized as she listened to the goddess.
"How sharp of you, Mrs Zumrie. I think we can help each other, but first we need to speak about what you want and what do you expect from this Familia, if you join."
Tyerr understood that despite this Goddess just starting out in Orario, that she wasn't someone to be trifled with. Was his family going to be used and slaved to be productive monster hunters, again? Tyerr was weary, he was thirty and wanted to rest, maybe become a guard…
"Tyerr darling, let me speak with her." Renna, the redheaded spirit mage in the group said to her husband as she noticed his mood.
Tyerr nodded reluctantly. His mage wives were smart and intelligent and it was normal for him to leave any negotiation in their hands… but if they went too far, he was here to stop them if they overreached. Meanwhile, Zaleria, his warrior wife and first lover, slipped one of her hands in his to reassure him; as he looked as Renna and Ashera discussed their wants with the short Goddess.
Tyerr turned to Zaleria and looked in her eyes, showing how nervous he was. The elven woman tightened her grip soft on his hand. "Everything will be okay." She whispered.
After saying that, Renna began telling the goddess about their goal of wanting to make a family but that they needed the funds to buy a magically rich land and to have financial and health security. The Goddess asked Wolf to call their own magical specialist. It was the red eyed woman called Seven, she still wore her golden armor entering from a hidden door linked to the meeting room.
Her eyes were fixated on the tiny yet voluptuous Goddess. "My Goddess, you called?"
Tyerr saw how interested the other woman was but she quickly hid it behind a professional mien; Hestia pointed her fingers at Renna and Ashera. “I want you to examine them, and tell me if it’s possible to have them thrive in the magical woods of the Vesta District.”
“Oh, great! Elves! Welcome future guinea pigs! There’s so many things I need your help with.” The dark haired beauty’s eyes became manic and Tyerr had the sudden feeling that he needed to get his wives out of here.
Empty Guild rented floor
Flower was out of the red enchanted dress that Seven had made for her and was back to wearing her casual wear that consisted of her armored spider silk black dress and her magical cloak of obfuscation. The event was a complete success, they got everyone who wasn’t Familia material out of the floor and had ten people accepted under conditions to join the Hestia Familia. All the rabble rousers and criminals were either caught or given a warning; all those who had just been curious were given participation prizes in the form of foods, drinks or advertising products such as daggers or cutlery made of stainless steel with some pamphlet about the Familia’s restaurants and shops.
Flower was satisfied with how everything ended, but the true test will come for those prospective new members later as their initiation was already planned. Seven was discussing Elven physiology with Renna and Ashera, the three of them had hit it off intellectually.
There was a really attractive cat person with beautiful pale blonde hair and a long dress slanted at her thigh, covered by a brown cloak; her name was Aya and she was from one of the numerous hunter tribes from the steppes between Orario, the Alv mountains and the Kaios desert. She was a spear woman, but already, Flower had plans to turn her into a dragoon when Seven has sufficient points to buy the Final Fantasy XIV job system, which she intended to make into a Familia secret.
Flower sighed, it was time to get back home with their recruits, she shouted, "Roll call everyone."
"Aya." Flower started in an alphabetical order.
Aya's ears stood erect as she said, "Present, nya!"
Everyone looked at the cute cat girls and smiled at her enthusiasm. Seven was at Wolf's side, holding onto his arm as she listened to Flower do the roll call.
“Here!” The petite werewolf raised her hand. She had daggers… no, shortsword at her side, they both had an ivory grip.
Flower looked toward the pale elf in a scandalous purple spider silk robe. “Dasalor, Ashera.”
“Present.” The husky voice of the mage answered instantly.
Eyes sliding on the tall form of the tanned blonde amazon, Flower called, “Krishna, Uyle.”
“Kusanagi, Miyo.” The kimono clad young woman with silky black hair was the only far-easterner present.
“Ai,ai, I’m here.” The girl said nonchalantly as she looked somehow annoyed while lighting on a pipe and began smoking.
Flower slightly glared at her, she was going to speak to her later about her bad habits. The girl was killing her lungs with this herbal relaxant… still she calmed down and proceeded to look at the black armored elf with silver hair and gray eyes. “Mirakalyn, Zaleria.”
“I’m here.” Her voice was firm and yet beautiful. Flower understood why Tyerr married her, she looked strong and reliable, she was also one of the women who didn't participate in the scams perpetrated by the three others.
“Trakas, Renna.” Flower looked at the redheaded elf with suspicions, she was the one she needed to be careful of the most.
“Here!” The redheaded mage waved at Flower and grinned.
She was happy that they finally got accepted in an up and coming Familia who seemed to generate its own resources. Flower chose to put aside her misgivings and would air them later in the meeting that they would have tomorrow with Goddess Hestia. She proceeded to continue the roll call.
“Present.” The bass like voice of the warrior boomed through the air between them.
Flower understood the women surrounding him, the guy was a good catch, she still liked men like her Cloud or Zack though. Muscular, but not too beefy and with the build of martial artist or swimmer. Her eyes slid on her husband who looked back at her, she wetted her lips with her tongue and thought about what all three of them would do tonight.
“Zumrie, Sillavana.” Flower said, forcing herself to get her mind out of the gutter.
“Present!” The archer-rogue looked like a typical forest elf in her leather armor, Flower was also mesmerized by her recurve bow made out of dragon bones and sinew, Seven would be getting all over that weapon later, she just knew it.
"Excellent, we have everyone." Seven intervened with a clap of her hands,
Flower smiled at her sister-wife's antics. She looked at all the recruits and said, "Thank you for joining us, we promise to not let you down and will help you follow your dreams as we discussed in the meeting room. Now let us depart for the Vesta District."
The doors of the floor opened and Flower made everyone exit with a smile on her face.
*And here they come.* The trickster thought.
As she sat at the restaurant on Babel’s ground floor, Loki could see the group slowly exiting the center of the city. As she tasted the flute of Soma divine wine in her hand, she tried to recall where she had seen the five people leading the procession with Hestia’s golden children. Loki couldn’t be anything but jealous of the loli-bigboob lucking out on finding two great warriors and a healer; she opened her eyes and looked in particular at the half-spirit girl, the one with the black hair and beautiful curve and muscle, she wore a golden armor thrumming with enchantments of a nature that no god has ever seen in this world.
Seven, if that was really her name -Loki doubted that as this name oozed deceit to her divine senses- was more powerful than she let on. By how much? Loki didn’t know, but the fact that she could take on an army of goblins and kobolds? Loki thought that her true level of power should be at level 4 to 6; the woman has been doing the impossible since the start, building a territory where Hestia could safely exert her arcanum, coming up with never seen before artifacts that could reproduce the scrying that Ouranos let them use… why couldn’t she devise a method to hide her true status and tamper with it?
For so long, Deities have thought that only them could modify falna wrought status, what if some mortals found a way? There were too many possibilities, and Loki wanted to know how those children worked. Already, they threatened the status quo of the city with their businesses from what the Guild knew about their activities. More powerful potions for healing, recovering from mind down or zero, there was even talk of a stamina recovery potion. This could be a game changer for an exploration Familia like Loki’s, though, she did think that Hestia wouldn’t be able to hold onto the treasure she had, there were only three people in her Familia, even if they were a formidable fighters, they couldn’t handle a mid tier familia going after them.
She heard how Dian Cecht was circling around the Vesta district; but none of his Familia members could enter the district because of that damned barrier. Loki was now aware that the protection around the Vesta District reacted to intent and that people with bad intentions couldn’t enter or were quickly found out by that blonde guy called wolf and booted out of Hestia’s place of power. Loki expected, someday soon, a War game would break out between those thirsty gods and Hestia’s Familia…
However, before any of that could happen; Hestia or should Loki say, her captain organized a recruitment drive. This was an occasion that no Deities could pass up to place their own agents to discover Hestia’s secret on how she made her own place of power. Loki was excited, she hoped that one of her minions got in.
“The shorty found herself with nine new members. But she's been racking the bottom of the barrel it seems.” The goddess of trickster looked at the five notorious level 2 amongst the group.
The Tyerr group have recently become the black sheep of the adventurer community, Hestia should have been warned off about taking them in. They were a competent group on the field, certainly. But their activities out of the field made it impossible to trust them as they laid honey traps for male adventurers to steal their money or were taking advantage of newbies to take more than half their spoils…
Loki saw none of her agents amongst the group, somehow she failed to insinuate any into the Familia. Speaking of, she noticed three people coming toward her, a low level male dwarf, and two girls, a Pallum and a cat person.
"Loki-sama, we're back…" The dwarf slightly bowed to the Trickster goddess.
He had an ornate silver ax at his back and wore brown leather armor that made him look quite scruffy, like a barbarian; the other two girls were a staff and bow user. The three of them had their heads lowered and couldn't look up at Loki. Those three were part of Familia who owed money or favors to Loki and their gods had lent them for a period of two years to Loki.
“What happened?” The fox faced goddess demanded as she put down her crystal flute emptied of ruby colored liquid.
“They were ready for the Gods trying to slip agents into their Familia.” The pallum girl said after a heavy sigh.
The three began to explain what happened to Loki, how the interviews weren't led by the captain, but by Hestia herself as she questioned the candidate, asking blatant questions such as: Do you mean any harm to the Hestia Familia? Or do you want to discover its secret to inform another party? Of ninety plus people showing, only nine were chosen.
“No way, Hestia is a dumb little shrimp. She's not smart enough for that kind of plan.” Loki affirmed.
The only things Hestia could be smart about was related to her divine domains, otherwise she was a lazy and dumb girl who didn't care about things beyond luxury. She was sheltered as well, always believing in the good in people; the loli-bigboob was naive, and too nice… and Loki totally didn't hate her just because she was more popular than her in Heaven.
“I think it’s that man, Wolf, he takes security very seriously, he had the Goddess ask questions for the interviews.” The dwarf informed Loki.
The goddess of tricksters clenched her fists, she didn't like the fact that Hestia had surrounded herself with competent and smart people. It meant that the inexperienced goddess was going to make fewer rookie mistakes. Loki pouted as she crossed her arms under her non-existent chest.
She said snidely, "Her familia is done for anyway, she took in the Tyerr group."
"She did?" The Pallum girl asked.
"Maybe we will get to see them implode and pick up the pieces because of how dumb the loli-bigboob is." Loki said, but deep inside she had a really bad feeling that this was wishful thinking on her part.
Sighing, Loki decided to at least honor her part of the bargain she made with Demeter, and Apollo and not leave those three adventurers they had lent them to dry.
"Okay guys, you did me a big service, I will accept you in my Familia for the duration of your contract… Welcome to the Loki Familia."
"Thanks Kami-sama, nya." The cat girl bowed deeply to the goddess.
“Welcome to the Vesta District everyone!” Seven smiled and opened her arms grandly as the adamantium gates opened for them.
The wooden gates had been replaced for adamantium ones when Seven discovered their mana insulating properties and their durability surpassing that of steel or titanium. It kind of reminded Seven of the Marvel universe variant of adamantium, but there was a point when even the local adamantium could break or melt. Currently she knew of no one practiced enough in fire magic in this world able to melt those doors without special means.
Off to the right and hundred meters from the entrance, stood a white and gray four storey building, it looked like a palace made out of stone, wood and marble; the architecture was Midgardian in design. There was a big neon sign animated by light magic with 7th Heaven written on it in the local language.
It was surrounded by a beautiful garden that was enclosed by an iron fence. The establishment was still empty as Seven made all the alcohol by the barrel and bought enough ingredients and food to fill her cellar. Seven looked down and noticed how clean and shiny the bricked road was, as she lifted her head to look in the horizon, letting her eyes follow the road; she pushed a sigh of satisfaction. Seven had already set the layout and foundations of the mini-town and the square in Vesta District.
Beside the planned shops' buildings, the park area and the central piazza were already complete. Seven listened to the reaction of the people behind her, the reactions were mixed as they looked around. Some asked questions about the magic tower and the house where Hestia and her officers lived.
"So as you can see, the place is a bit empty." Seven said as she pointed at all the greenery and empty spots.
"We will lead you to the dorms, they are right there near Hestia’s residence." She pointed at a humongous house that looked more like a modern apartment complex. It was made of white stones and iron woods and looked really fancy with the statues of Goddess Hestia holding on a brazier with magical blue flame crackling inside them. There were esthetically pleasing vines running all over the walls of the building and bushes full of flowers in the tropical garden surrounding the building. Seven had built the place to look like a miniature rendition of the Hanging garden of Babylon.
The building was enchanted to be climate controlled and protected against all sorts of vermin; the walls were reinforced through magic and the crystal lighting fixture inside was powered by the ambient mana. The amenities inside were up to modern standards as well. “Okay everyone, this is where you’ll be bunking, those are the official dorms for Familia members.”
“This looks beautiful.” Xena the werewolf girl said, her golden eyes sparkled in admiration.
Pointing her finger higher, Seven continued to explain, “The ground level and first floor are for women; second and third are for men. There’s different entrances for men and women, see those stairs leading to the second floor? That’s what guys will use.”
Seven turned on her heel and saw that all the single girls looked satisfied with that, the apartments looked spacious. But a look at Tyerr and his wives showed that they looked worried.
“What about married couples?” Zaleria the elf paladin asked.
Smiling mirthfully, Seven enlightened the silver haired elf. “Either they will have to tough it out, or rent one of the pre-built houses I made.”
“What’s the rent?” Renna asked.
Seven shrugged, lifting her right shoulder covered pauldron. “Depending on the house’s size, 130 000 to 250 000 Valis per month, the location matters as well.”
“This is cheap! The best places in Orario can go for 500 000 valis!” Renna began to jump up and down in excitement.
Nodding, Seven said, “Yeah, I’m aware. A team at level 2 like you can quickly gather 100 000 Valis or more in a week.”
She did the calculation herself, depending on how deep a level 2 went in a week he or she could feed themselves and pay for a low end apartment. As an example, Xena the petite werewolf was being scammed by her current landlord for 600 000 Valis for a three room apartment near Dedalus street; the place where all the poor people gathered and did whatever was necessary to survive. Seven looked at Xena who looked happy to finally find quality amenities… The werewolf nodded at her and said ‘thank you’ silently.
“Tyerr group, I intend to honor the deal I made with you earlier. Please follow me and I will lead you to where you’ll live. The rest of you will be shown how everything works by Flower or Goddess Hestia.” She said as she looked at Flower who smiled back at her.
“C’mere girls, Goddess Hestia and I will show you how to use the communal baths!” Flower said with the tiny Goddess at her side who perked up at the word bath.
Seven built a bath house for the future Familia members and it was more of a spa facility; she intended to train people and market the services for adventurers. There were so many high level female adventurers looking for that kind of job to retire that it wasn’t even funny. Hestia enthusiastically took Xena and Miyo’s hands and pulled them toward the white building.
“Time for some relaxation!!” The goddess shouted as she walked.
Wolf followed the group that was being led toward the woods part of the Vesta district and after five minutes the stopped near a grove where a resplendent ten meter ash tree with glowing leaves was planted, the mana level surrounding it was so thick that anyone sensitive enough would feel as if they were moving through molasses. The tree’s bark was gray and shone slightly; Wolf and Seven stopped five meters away from it. The vegetation in the grove and around it was starting to mutate due to the thick level of mana.
Seven hoped to study the phenomenon later. There was a modern looking house right by the grove with an artificial pool with fishes in it. It looked like a wooded and stone chalet that you’d find in the mountains on modern earth. The panoramic veranda on the first floor showed that it was already furnished. Tyerr and his wives were silent for a moment as they took in everything around them.
The grass was well manicured around the tree and as the sun dipped slowly over the horizon, it gave a certain mystique to the scene they were witnessing. Seven had hoped that they would get elves to join up and that eventually, they would serve as mouthpieces for the familia to recruit more mages as time went on. Having a spirit tree enabling them to live comfortably in the city was a boon that they can’t ignore.
"By the gods, is this a spirit tree?!" Ashera asked, dumbfounded by what she was seeing. She tried to conjure magic manually, without her Falna and she felt that it was readily available when her fingertips lit up with purple light.
As for Renna who was a spirit mage, she felt the untainted and wild mana of the grove. "Such purity…"
"The mana density in this grove is higher than in the center of the Alf Royal Forest!" Zaleria commented wistfully, there were tears in her eyes.
Seven guessed that the silver haired elf was from the royal forest; she couldn’t wait to know her new Familia members’ stories.
"We lucked out!" Sillavana raised a fist in the air.
After this, Seven explained how she had obtained a seed from a wild spirit tree from the Alv mountains. It was a true story, it was crazy what you could find on the black market in Orario for an exchange of favors. Some new artifacts to conceal the products of the black market were made to get this tree. Of course, Seven made sure that the shroud magic she gave the Hermes Familia could be seen through by her; Seven believed that Batman had it right, always place a backdoor in the tech you hand out to gather information about people who might turn on her.
Seven smiled, with an haughty expression on her face. She had bought the tree and mutated it to be more powerful than normal, that was why the mana was thick in this land.
"Ah yes. This is still just a sapling, we will need elves to take care of it…" Seven started to say, when she was interrupted.
"I will do it!" Renna Trakas, the spirit mage raised her hand, she looked rather determined.
“Good! I’m going to separate this part of the District from the publicly available areas; I hope that Mrs Trakas and you, Mrs Dasalor will help me create a magical boundary to do so.” With a wicked smile, Seven nodded at Renna who felt as if she was being scammed somehow.
“I-it’s a given.” The pretty black haired elf said.
They all felt somewhat giddy by what they were experiencing, even Tyerr seemed to stand straighter in the current mana charged atmosphere. Seven looked to her right and said, “Now, follow me to your abode. You have the choice between two houses, the one near us and another…”
“We will take this one! It’s nearest to the tree!” Renna said quickly as she pointed her gloved finger at the beautiful chalet-like house.
She wanted to be near the tree and proceed with her family planning plan right away it seemed. Seven made a note to keep those women away from important dungeon expeditions. With their reputation she couldn’t trust them not to chicken out in certain situations. “Very well, the rent will be set at 200 000 Valis per month.”
Tyerr grinned, Zaleria, Renna and the two other female elves looked at each other; clearly the price Seven quoted was more than affordable to them when they’ve been saving up their money and scamming other adventurers for years. They have dozens of millions in the bank. As the sky darkened, the crystals attached to the street lamps slowly started to glow, their enchantments kicking in now that it was night. Soft white light started to appear everywhere in the district.
Renna nodded. “That won’t be a problem, are we authorized to buy the house from you directly?”
Wolf and Seven smiled at the question, it was indeed an important one. Unfortunately for Renna, Flower had come up with a bunch of rules that made it impossible for members who just joined from obtaining certain services and anything permanent in the district like lodging. Seven said, “I’m afraid that it won’t be possible. For the Familia to let that happen you need at least two years of loyal service.”
Crossing his arms with a clang sound from his gauntlets, Wolf added, “That’s a Minimum. We need to be sure that you’ll stick around first.”
Cocking her head Seven commented, “What Wolf said.”
The Tyerr group lost their smiles, and on each of them, a serious expression appeared. Zaleria, who normally would stay silent, turned to her worried husband. “We need a plan, Tyerr, this is too much of a good opportunity to pass up.”
Her tone didn’t broker any argument and the rest of the women were on the same wavelength. Tyerr had already decided to join the Hestia familia, there was no need to think too deeply about their situation. “We are already joining, all we have to do is prove our loyalty and be productive.”
Those were common tactics in older and more established Familia in Orario. This reassured Tyerr that Goddess Hestia and her officers took the formation of their familia seriously; they wanted to make sure that they weren’t here to take advantage of the just started Familia. The half elven warrior didn’t see any problem with tying their fate to the tiny Goddess’ new Familia.
“Dungeon delving isn’t the only avenue open to you in this Familia. As a matter of fact, I’m going to need mage assistants for my research.” Seven informed them.
Ashera and Renna perked up at the word research, the redhead asked, “What are you researching, Mrs Seven?”
The thaumaturgist in golden armor smiled. “The use of Magic without a falna.”
“Isn’t this a dead field of research?” Ashera frowned.
Seven rolled her eyes. “No, people on this continent simply stopped researching magic because Falna made it easy to use. You’ve all become lazy because of the gods walking amongst you.”
“On this continent?” Zaleria asked, intrigued. “Where are you from?”
“A land destroyed by a Goddess rendered insane.” Seven said, not saying more as she thought about Jenova and Sephiroth and how in the end those two won and were now using Gaia like a vehicle in search for another planet to infect.
“Please, follow me. I will show you your new home.” Seven said as she moved toward the house without waiting for the Tyerr group. Wolf followed her with the same forlorn expression the elves had seen on Seven’s face.
Whatever those two’s story was, Tyerr decided to not ask as it seemed painful.
A/N: And we got a bunch of OC in the Familia now! Don't worry they're cool, you'll see that in the next chapters.